May 27, 2018

Door-to-Door Proselytizing Seems Pointless

No soliciting, fundraising, politics, salesmen, religionI'm sure I've written about this before, but I continue to struggle to wrap my head around why evangelical fundamentalist Christians continue to engage in door-to-door proselytizing in areas where the overwhelming majority of residents are already members of their tribe (like Mississippi). It seems to me that they'd be better served by organizing trips to much less religious parts of the country and attempting to spread their "good news" there. Then again, the people who live there might be less inclined to listen to their nonsense. Still, I find it odd how almost every Southern Baptist who ends up on my porch seems to think that they are the first I've encountered and that this is the first time I've heard about their "savior" (it isn't).

It is difficult to imagine that anyone living in the United States today, especially those of us living in oppressively religious areas, has never heard of Jesus. I would think that practically any competent adult one might select at random would be able to provide a reasonably accurate account of what most Christians believe about Jesus, heaven, and salvation. If we're already familiar with it and we aren't believing Christians, there seems little reason to think annoying proselytizing is going to change that. If anything, it might have the opposite effect. Over time, it might lead more of us to decide that we want nothing to do with the sort of people who interrupt us at home to preach at us.

If the goal of door-to-door proselytizing is to convert the victim, the entire exercise seems pointless. I'm sure it does work from time-to-time, but the rate of lasting conversions has to be extremely low. When one weighs this against the time, effort, fuel consumed, and so on, it seems very inefficient.

Maybe the goal of door-to-door proselytizing isn't primarily one of converting others. I wonder if an even more important goal might be to strengthen the faith of those who are asked to do it. Here in Mississippi, I'd think that most of the Southern Baptists who go door-to-door are greeted by other Southern Baptists. This must be an affirming experience. The few non-Christians they encounter are probably easy to forget. I would think that they'd come away from a day of proselytizing feeling quite content that almost everybody believes as they do. And maybe they enjoy the social aspects of traveling around various neighborhoods in their church van together.

If there's any truth to this idea that door-to-door proselytizing is less about converting others and more about conferring benefits on those who do it, I expect we won't see it end anytime soon. While I consider that to be unfortunate because it annoys me, I maintain hope that it will annoy others and end up being one more factor that drives people away from evangelical fundamentalist Christianity.